Managing a multi-national corporation is one thing. Running a world-class performing arts center is another altogether. For someone to do both -- and to do both well -- that takes some savvy. Such a someone is Ricky Arriola, CEO of Inktel Direct and Chairman of the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Last year, Arriola led Miami's flagship venue to a rather robust season, and this year promises to be even better. In fact, it all begins this Sunday with the come-one, come-all Festival of the Arts. The man on the go took time out to give Niteside the lowdown.
For the few people who haven't yet been to the Arsht, would you please tell us a bit about the place? The Adrienne Arsht Center is a world-class performing arts center, one of the largest of its kind, complete with three performance halls. In just four short years, we've already established ourselves as one of America's premier venues for enjoying live performances. On a given day, we're hosting anything from classical music and dance or a free gospel concert, to a hip-hop show or a large-scale Broadway musical. We like to think that the diversity of our programs reflects that of our community. Our community-based mission ensures we are bringing top-notch shows to South Florida audiences while simultaneously making a positive difference in our own backyard through arts education initiatives, community outreach programs and the like. And the Arsht Center's location in downtown Miami led to a cultural rebirth of the neighborhood, resulting in $1 billion worth of economic development in the area around the Center.
How did you come to be Chairman anyway? I was elected as chairman by the Board of Directors. I am very proud of the strength and oversight that the board provided during my tenure as chairman, which helped lead the Arsht to prosperity after a difficult opening season.
Word is you've also just added the Bombay Sapphire Lounge to the equation. Can you please elaborate? We are thrilled to have the country's first branded Bombay Sapphire Lounge at the Arsht Center. The Lounge is part of a five-year sponsorship by Bacardi USA. We've always wanted to launch this type of venue in the Carnival Tower, which was formerly part of the Sears department store. So when Bombay Sapphire surfaced as a sponsor and Downtown Miami's residential and commercial scenes began heating up, we felt the timing was right. It's a beautiful space where, after the grand opening in October, Arsht Center patrons as well as neighborhood residents, visitors, Miami Heat fans -- everyone -- can come and enjoy a drink and a light-fare menu five nights a week. (Until that point, it will be open on nights there are performances on the schedule.) The Lounge is very stylish and subdued -- we think it will be a very popular addition to the thriving downtown scene.
And this Sunday you've got the Festival of the Arts. What's that all about? The Festival of the Arts is a first-time event for the Arsht Center. Think of it like a street fair with more than 150 local arts organizations showcasing their art offerings and community service opportunities. Throughout the day, we will also be hosting arts seminars that encourage our partners to share best practices in the industry. There will be two stages with bands like Grammy Award-winning Ozomatli, a block-long line-up of gourmet food vendors, children's entertainment and more. It's a way for the entire arts community to celebrate the upcoming season, and tickets for more than 50 upcoming shows will go on sale for the first time on Sunday as well.
What else in store this season theater-wise? Wow, I don't think you've got enough space to describe it all. We're very excited about our line-up this year.We've got a blockbuster Broadway season on tap -- with"Jersey Boys," "Dreamgirls," "Beauty & the Beast," "Hair" and "Rain" all making their Miami debuts. We will also host our first comedy series, which is headlined by Jerry Seinfeld and Whoopi Goldberg.
And music? Well, we always have great musical performances and our calendar continues to evolve, but to name some of our stellar acts, Michael Feinstein will perform as part of our Jazz Roots series on Nov. 5, and violinist Joshua Bell will appear as part of our Classical Music series in Jan. 2011.
You also happen to head one of South Florida's most robust companies. How about a word or two on your "day job"? My "day job" is being the CEO of Inktel Direct Corp, a business that is in the "business process outsourcing" industry. Basically, Inktel manages the back-office functions for leading Fortune 500 companies and governments. We've been growing and winning awards, so we're very excited and pleased with the direction of the company. I take pride in building a strong, employee-friendly workplace and we were recognized as the best place to work in the state by Florida Trend magazine in 2009.
When you're not running the Arsht -- or Inktel Direct -- where in town do you most like hanging out? I tend to work out or read in my downtime, so I'm usually in my gym, out running and swimming on the beach or biking in Key Biscayne. If I'm not working or working out, I'm usually reading a book. My club days are behind me.
What's coming up for Ricky Arriola? I've got a couple of triathlons coming up in the next three months that will be keeping me occupied.